Robert Forster 13th July 1941 – 11th October 2019

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A psychology grad who was headed for a career in law before he followed a beautiful girl into an acting audition, academically gifted (in the 99.9th percentile), wonderfully charismatic and a staple of several auteurs, the marvellous Robert Forster has died aged 78. Remarkably prolific, he clocked up 186 acting credits with that low drawling voice of his. He made a cracking debut (naked, on a horse) for John Huston in Reflections in a Golden Eye and had the lead in Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool, one of several starring parts he had through the late Sixties and into the Seventies prior to the TV show Banyon where he was a PI in LA, a role that may have led him to direct and star in his own ‘tec movie, Hollywood Harry. For my generation he probably really came to attention with Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. He said of Tarantino’s decision to give him the cool noir hero role,  I’m not sure how a guy wins or loses in this business, but somebody’s got to come along and make you lucky. You can’t do it yourself.  He joked that he had been in obscurity for 27 years but he had worked steadily on TV, in B movies and with cult figures like Noel Black and Jess Franco. When Delta Force stuck him in bad guy roles for 13 years he became a motivational speaker and taught at film schools. Latterly of course he was in the rebooted TV series Twin Peaks twenty years after appearing for David Lynch in the TV pilot Mulholland Drive and then the feature; and he recently reprised the role of Ed for the Breaking Bad movie El Camino, which has just been released to great reviews and he is in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Amazing Stories series. What a wonderful actor. Rest in peace.  I just know this: If I can ever find a character where I get laughs, I hope that is the thing that endures. There’s nothing better than getting a laugh

 

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Gilbert Lennon 17th April 2003 – 2nd August 2019

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The world’s most charming and cine-literate cat died in my arms at 1120 today following a very short illness. Gilbert was the light of my life and accompanied me everywhere, including my travels on the internet to which he was a keen contributor and editor via this diary. I thought of a lot of things but not this. Now he is on the wild road with his brothers and sister. Vaya con Dios, amigo. You are the best of everything and Mondo Movies and I will not be right without you.

Valentina Cortese 1st January 1923 – 10th July 2019

The death has taken place of the wonderful Italian actress Valentina Cortese. Trained at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome, she first appeared in elaborate costume dramas and following the war made the move to Hollywood, making a stop in the UK  industry for the Dolomites-set The Glass Mountain where her fine beauty and warm screen personality impressed and her role opposite Orson Welles in Black Magic drew the attention of Darryl F. Zanuck. She married actor Richard Basehart following their appearance in The House on Telegraph Hill, a view of the war from the American perspective following her local roles in The Wandering Jew and Rome, Open City which had made her an icon of Italian cinema. As an independent and mostly in the Italian industry thereafter, she would eventuallywork with Antonioni (Le amiche) and Zeffirelli (Brother Sun, Sister Moon and others up to Sparrow) who remained a close friend.  She had forged links with Fellini early with one of his first screenplays (Three Quarters of a Page) and later memorably played in Juliet of the Spirits. Nominated for an Academy Award for her fading actress Séverine in François Truffaut’s Day For Night, she continued in both film and television and worked until the Nineties including for Terry Gilliam in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. She had a famously popular theatre reputation particularly for fans of high campIt took eight different actresses to play her in the film Diva! adapted from her autobiography “A real character, extremely feminine and very funny,” Truffaut said of Cortese. We cannot improve upon that. Rest in peace.